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Motivation Applicability in the Workplace Essay

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Updated: Apr 6th, 2019


Motivation is the process that initiates and sustains certain behaviors or codes of conduct. A motivating factor triggers the beginning of a certain behavior and as long as the motivating factor is present, the person retains the behavior. This implies that the process of motivation is a cause-effect in which case, the cause is the motivating factor, while the behavior is the effect.

The emergence of this knowledge has triggered several researches in view of understanding the motivation process best. Initially, employers viewed the employees as just another input in the production process and continued to do so until the understanding about motivation came up.

Since then, employers have changed their behavior and approach towards their employees. This paper aims at exploring the facts behind one of the motivational theories and examining its applicability in the working place. Thereafter, the paper explores the need for new motivation theories to supplement the inapplicability of the theory under discussion.

Concepts of motivation

In a wide range, managers have approached the issue of employee motivation under the guidance of two concepts. One of these concepts is the concept of the intrusive and extrusive motivation. Factors like personal interest and enjoyment of tasks assigned to a person, which are intrinsic in nature are motivating factors (Baumeister & Vohs, 2004).

This concept of motivation contends that the individual is motivated when factors within them are chief motivators. The idea of extrusive motivation on the other hand approaches work as a means to an end. This is to say that individuals will work to attain a certain outcome.

This motivation, as opposed to intrinsic motivation, comes from external sources or pressures. Examples of extrusive motivational factors include competition and money. It is important to note that extrusive motivation is not always positive. Negative factors like punishment and threats can be motivating factors.

Another concept employed under motivation is the concept of self-control, which becomes clearer when studied as emotional intelligence. This concept refers to the application of self-control by individuals when in pursuit of goals and targets (Baumeister & Vohs, 2004).

This concept is of the idea that need cause by a deficiency in a person is a cause for a drive to satisfy that need and therefore this drive may not require an external stimulus. This therefore implies that the role of external stimulus may be to encourage consistency certain behaviors, which become more of permanent.

Need hierarchy theory

Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, in 1954 developed this theory in an attempt to show the complexity of human needs. In his theory, he constructed progressive hierarchical classes that every individual must grow through; once the needs of one class are satisfied, the individual progresses to the next class.

This theory stands on a founding assumption that the motivating factor in human beings is unsatisfied need and that those needs have priorities. He argues that every human being seeks to satisfy these needs according to their priority.

The theory proposed that Physiological needs are the top priority for any human. These needs are merely survival requirements and therefore if not satisfied the individual cannot live.

They are more of food, water, and air, which are necessities for any organism to survive (Maslow, 1954, 236). Included I this class of needs is shelter and clothing. This need is included here because; clothing protects the individual from the elements of weather.

Once the physiological needs are satisfied, the individual embarks on fulfilling their security needs and thus this need shapes their behavior. Security needs entail both physical security and financial security (Maslow, 1954, 237).

The need for physical security comes up in times of war or in cases of domestic violence. Economic security manifests itself through the need for job security, savings account, insurance policies and such like behaviors.

The satisfaction of security needs gives rise to another class of needs, which are love and belonging. Humans need to feel appreciated and valued whether by social groups or within the family circle.

Sometimes, this need may come before security needs though not commonly so (Cofer & Mortimer, 1967). Individuals seeking to satisfy this need may be associated with social clubs, religious and professional groups and small social groups like family and marriage.

The class above the security class is self-esteem and self-respect. Persons seeking to satisfy this need like to feel valued by others and a sense of contribution and self worth in activities either in the professional circles or in their hobbies (Cofer & Mortimer, 1967).

There is a higher and lower level of esteem needs. The lower level entails the need for respect from other, recognition, fame, attention and status. The higher needs include competence, self-respect and mastery of a skill.

The last and the highest need in the hierarchy is self-actualization. This employs the concept of becoming in which case, the individual tries to become what he can be. It involves the realization of the individual’s full potential. This need may appear to be broad but when the concept narrows down to singular individuals, it becomes specific. In this case, therefore, the need is articulate and can be satisfied.

Organizational application

In any organization, a close study of the lower level employees reveals that actually, money is a motivating factor. Salaries and wages are important motivational factors, but on the other hand, they can demoralize the employees if not well approached.

Timely payments and consideration of factors like cost of living, and the organizations ability to pay are important factors to consider when determining wages and salaries (Cofer & Mortimer, 1967). Other monetary motivators include bonuses, incentives and special individual incentives. All these are motivating factors especially, though not solely, to employees under level one.

Furthermore, as Maslow notes, as one develops in the work place, their needs change from only physiological needs, to needs that are more complex. Therefore, it is important for managers to note that fair compensation coupled with incentives and bonuses are not the sole motivators (Cofer & Mortimer, 1967).

There are other factors, which play a very important role in the motivating process for instance the need for status, and therefore the managers must identify these needs as they arise to maintain a high level of employee motivation.


The whole issue of employee motivation is a complex process, which varies from one individual to the other, and therefore it is hard to develop a prescription but rather one can only provide a skeletal understanding, which mangers have to supplement through careful observation of the employees.

This means that, there is a great variance in the set of factors, which motivate individual persons and therefore the manager has to acknowledge the uniqueness of every employee. However, there is one thing that is clear; that managers have the role of nurturing the subordinates, which is the only way to achieving sustainable motivation.


Baumeister, R.F. & Vohs, K.D. (2004). Handbook of self-regulation: Research, theory, and applications. New York: Guilford Press.

Cofer, C. N. & Mortimer A.H. (1967). Motivation: Theory and Research. London, Sydney: John Wiley & Sons.

Maslow A. (1954). Motivation and Personality. New York: Harper.

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